Prince Philip Passes Away at 99: Look Back at His Love Story With Queen Elizabeth

Their marriage lasted 73 years.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Tim Graham/Getty Images 

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's seven-decade-long romance is one for the history books. From ruling a country together to creating a growing family, see a complete timeline of their relationship below.

  • Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip first met in 1934.
  • They married on November 20, 1947.
  • Together, they had four children and have since welcome grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
  • After 73 years of marriage, Prince Philip passed away on April 9, 2021, at 99 years old.

1934: The First Encounter

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Greece (at the time) — and don’t worry this is very common in European royal families — are distant cousins, both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria. They met for the first time at the wedding of his cousin Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent. At the time, Elizabeth was 8 years old and not even projected to be queen (her father’s brother Edward was next in line and was also expected to produce an heir).

1939: They Meet Again

When she was 13 and he was 18, the two met again when the queen’s family was on a visit to the Royal Naval College, where the prince was a cadet in training. And from the sounds of it, it was love at first sight. 

The queen’s nanny at the time Marion Crawford wrote in her book that the queen was quite smitten with the prince. She "never took her eyes off him,” said Crawford. The two kept in correspondence in the years following, and as her cousin Margaret Rhodes told Vanity Fair, “She never looked at anyone else.”

1946: Prince Philip Asks for King George VI’s Blessing

After years of correspondence, the two had fallen madly in love. According to biographer Ingrid Seward, Prince Philip wrote the most romantic letter to Elizabeth saying, "To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one's personal and even the world's troubles seem small and petty.”

Although the prince didn’t technically have high enough titles to marry someone in the queen’s position, King George rather liked him. He just asked that they wait a year until the queen turned 21 years old before announcing their engagement.

After a month-long vacation at Balmoral with her family, Philip proposed! The engagement ring was made by London Jeweler Philip Antrobus out of diamonds from her mother’s tiara.

July 1947: The Announcement

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip finally announced their engagement July 9, 1947 when the couple shared a portrait with the world. "It is clearly a marriage of choice, not of arrangement[...]There have been many royal engagements in the past, but it would be hard to find a precise parallel for that of an Heiress Presumptive and still more for her choice as partner of one who is, technically at least, a British commoner,” a reporter for the Guardian wrote at the time. A love match if you will.

November 1947: The Wedding

Queen Wedding Day

Hulton Deutsch/Getty Images 

The wedding took place at Westminster Abbey, but because it was the first major event after World War II, the king insisted on a smaller, quiet wedding so it wouldn’t read as tone deaf or offensive to the recovering country’s people.

The queen and prince had only 150 guests (small for a royal celebration) at the ceremony followed by a luncheon at Buckingham Palace. After the wedding festivities the two embarked on a honeymoon at Broadlands, his family’s estate in Hampshire.

1949-1951: Enjoying Some Quiet Time

For probably the only time in the queen’s life, she and Prince Philip have a lowkey, laid back life while living in Malta, where Philip was stationed in the Navy. 

November 14, 1948: Prince Charles is Born

In November of the year following their wedding, the queen gave birth to their first born, Prince Charles.

August 15, 1950: Princess Anne is Born

Queen and Prince with kids

Keystone/Stringer/Getty Images

Less than two years later, the couple welcomed their second child, Princess Anne.

1953: The Queen's Coronation

Queen's Coronation

Keystone/Stringer/Getty Images

After her father King George VI’s death in 1952, Elizabeth inherited the throne, at just 25 years old. At the time, her title and responsibilities allegedly put a strain on the couple’s marriage. Because of her title, the kids couldn’t even take Prince Philip’s surname. But eventually the family settled into royalty.

November 1972: The Silver Wedding Speech

Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Wedding speech at the guildhall gave the world a glimpse into their happy and successful marriage.

"If I am asked what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage, I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction, I am for it,” she said.

November 1997: Their 50th Anniversary

The Queen and Prince Philip held a luncheon to celebrate this big milestone in their marriage. During a toast to the queen, rince Philip spoke about how they have maintained a healthy, happy marriage all these years.

"I think the main lesson we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient in any happy marriage... You can take it from me, the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance." 

June 2002: She Praises Prince Philip Again

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee speech praised Philip in the highest remarks. "I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family,” she said. “The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past fifty years, as he has to so many charities and organisations with which he has been involved."

November 2017: Their 70th Anniversary

Seven decades later, and this couple is still going strong. In honor of this anniversary, the queen and prince had new portraits taken together.

Being the only royal couple in history to ever reach a platinum anniversary, they had a nice, yet small dinner to celebrate.

November 2020: Their 73rd Wedding Anniversary

In honor of yet another huge milestone, the Royal Family Instagram account posted a never before seen photo from the couple’s honeymoon.

April 9, 2021: Prince Philip Passes Away

On April 9, Queen Elizabeth announced the death of her beloved husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Royal Family shared the news on Instagram, saying, “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.” 

Prince Philip was 99 years old.

Related Stories